This Week In Culture: March 7–13, 2020

Stories about some big cancellations, the passing of a couple of greats, and some TV to enjoy as you practice social distancing all contributed words to this week's list of vocabulary from the culture beat.

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definitions & notes only words
  1. consolidated
    joined together into a whole
    The organization did not immediately specify the nature of those decisions, though there had been speculation that games could be played without fans or tournament sites could be consolidated.
    USA Today (Mar 11, 2020)
    The NCAA announced that it will continue to hold men's and women's playoff basketball games according to schedule, but that fans will not be admitted due to fears of spreading the coronavirus. Only staff and family will be allowed inside the arenas. Consolidate literally means "to make solid" but is used figuratively to refer to combining separate things into one larger thing.
  2. defraud
    deprive of by deceit
    And what made "McMillions" — the story of how one man managed to defraud McDonald's out of $24 million in prize money by rigging the fast-food chain's popular Monopoly promotional game — so compelling, right up until the end credits, is that it paid off on every detail teased throughout the series.
    Salon (Mar 10, 2020)
    The finale of McMillions aired, bringing the improbable yet true story to a close. The show recounts how one man cheated McDonalds out of $24 million by rigging their Monopoly game. Fraudare means "to cheat" in Latin, and fraud is illegal deception. If you commit fraud against another person, you are defrauding them.
  3. eschew
    avoid and stay away from deliberately
    He eschewed electric music, despite its popularity, and for a time considered taking up taxi-driving.
    Guardian (Mar 9, 2020)
    Jazz piano great McCoy Tyner died at 81. Best known for his part in the legendary John Coltrane quartet of the early 1960s, Tyner was an excellent counterpart for Coltrane's ferocious improvisation. His brilliant harmonic and rhythmic sense reinvented jazz piano and influenced generations of players. He continued playing until shortly before his death, making dozens of records as both sideman and bandleader.
  4. infringement
    an act that disregards an agreement or a right
    The music industry has seen a number of copyright infringement cases over the years, and the controversial inverse ratio rule has established a lower burden of proof for copyright infringement.
    CNN (Mar 10, 2020)
    Led Zeppelin won a court case over their most famous song, Stairway to Heaven." A member of Spirit, another band from that era, had claimed that Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page stole part of the chord progression from the Spirit song Taurus. This case may be important moving forward, making it harder for artists to sue each other over allegedly stolen tunes.
  5. niche
    a position well suited to the person who occupies it
    “It’s revealing a completely different ecological niche that we never knew existed,” says study coauthor Jingmai O’Connor, a paleontologist at China’s Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology.
    National Geographic (Mar 11, 2020)
    A tiny fossilized skull belonged to the smallest dinosaur ever found. Preserved in amber — fossilized tree sap — in Myanmar, the creature was no bigger than a hummingbird. Oculudentavis, which literally means "eye tooth bird" in Latin, had eyes that bulged out of its head and lots of sharp teeth in its snout. It appears to be related to other dinosaurs that are known to be ancestors of modern birds.
  6. ordeal
    a severe or trying experience
    It’s not just an emotional ordeal. Other filmmakers are scrambling to cancel Airbnb reservations and to get their flights refunded.
    Variety (Mar 10, 2020)
    Organizers cancelled the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas. Health officials have recommended avoiding large groups, and countries with more severe outbreaks have taken steps to ban all such activities. Experts predict that the effects to our economy will be severe, as many businesses close during the epidemic. Ordeal is a Germanic word, originally meaning "judgement" or "trial."
  7. parable
    a short moral story
    The hosts of the first two seasons, fitfully struggling toward consciousness between occupational assaults and killings, were always stand-ins in a parable about free will and enslavement.
    – New York Times (Mar 11, 2020)
    The third season of Westworld begins next week, and — spoiler alert — they're not in Westworld anymore. The characters are now out in the real world, and after a poorly-received second season fans are eager to see if this helps revitalize the show. A parable is a story with a point, one meant to teach you a lesson. The word comes from the Latin parabola, meaning "proverb."
  8. poacher
    someone who hunts or fishes illegally
    The mother giraffe and her calf were killed by poachers, they said.
    CNN (Mar 10, 2020)
    Two of the three known white giraffes in the world were killed recently in Kenya. The sole survivor, a male, is still alive; the two that were killed were the mother and her calf. White giraffes are not albinos; they have a different condition called leucism, a genetic condition where their skin doesn't produce color but their eyes and other soft tissues are dark.
  9. undertaking
    any piece of work that is attempted
    Many current rock and hip-hop artist-entrepreneurs have determined how to own, run, and distribute their own labels, but in the early years of such undertakings, everyone — especially the musicians who fronted the companies — was learning as they went along.
    Rolling Stone (Mar 9, 2020)
    Beatles guitarist George Harrison's son Dhani is reviving his father's record label Dark Horse Records. Long before it was routine for artists to have their own labels, Harrison ran Dark Horse to publish his own solo records but also to promote the work of a huge variety of other artists. Over time, Harrison grew tired of running it and used it mostly to release his own music. Dhani plans to reissue a number of records from the catalog and unpublished works from the archive.
  10. vivify
    give new life or energy to
    “Like a novelist,” Rafferty wrote, “he finds the human details that vivify the character.”
    Washington Post (Mar 8, 2020)
    Actor Max von Sydow died at 90. He appeared in over 150 movies in 70 years, playing a huge variety of roles; he appeared in everything from The Exorcist to The Force Awakens. He is best known for serious, stern characters but he had a wide range and critics loved him. He also played the three-eyed raven in Game of Thrones. He won an Oscar in 1987.
Created on March 9, 2020 (updated March 23, 2020)

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